Charlottesville’s economic development authority might help finance new infrastructure expected to be recommended by a $120,000 study on the future of parking downtown.
“The [authority] is allowed by state law to lease property or purchase property and it potentially has a role related to parking,” said Chris Engel, director of city economic development, at an authority board meeting Tuesday.
The City Council hired the firm Nelson Nygaard earlier this year after the sole shareholder of the Charlottesville Parking Center asked the council to implement a system where all public on-street and off-street spaces would be managed by a new parking authority.
Under Mark Brown’s proposal, meters would be added to on-street spaces with revenues potentially financing construction of a new garage or development of park-and-ride lots.
Brown’s request followed several of the recommendations called for in an October 2008 parking study. However, a previous council opted at that time to not pursue parking meters.
The current council did not weigh in directly on Brown’s request, but commissioned Nelson Nygaard to update the 2008 report to guide planning for a growing downtown’s parking future.
Engel shared no details of the study, which will be unveiled to the public at an Oct. 1 City Council work session.
However, Engel said economic development authorities are not allowed by law to operate a parking facility.
Engel said the authority played a role in financing the construction of the Water Street parking garage in the early 1990s. That facility is now operated by the CPC, as is the Market Street parking garage.
Earlier this summer, the company put the Water Street facility on a waiting list for new monthly parkers because the company has entered into several long-term leases with businesses to provide parking for employees.
The Market Street parking garage has been on a waiting list for some time.
Since commissioning the forthcoming study, the City Council has made one change to downtown parking.
Last month, the council agreed to set aside as many as 100 downtown parking spaces for use by the Albemarle County court system if the two communities decide to co-locate their general district courts downtown. As many as 35 spaces would be allocated during construction and the rest following the new facility’s opening.
The agreement is null and void if Albemarle decides to relocate its courts from downtown to a location in the county. The county also will have to pay market-value for the spaces but it is not yet known where they will be or how much they will cost.
In other news, the authority agreed to amend its lease with SNL Financial to reflect the company’s new owner, McGraw Hill Financial. The authority owns the building and received $240,000 in rent in the last fiscal year.
Engel also said the authority might begin to lease or acquire space for companies that take part in one of the city’s Growing Opportunities workforce development programs.
“Economic development authorities are allowed to do so under the state code to help facilitate further job growth and job development,” Engel said. “These would be businesses that sell their product outside of the area and bring revenue to the area.”
A committee of the authority will be formed to study the issue further.
“The group would start to think about what some basic criteria would look like,” Engel said.